Returning to work with long commute - help me find a feasible (creative?) solution

(16 Posts)
DotAndCarryOne Fri 05-Oct-12 12:43:58

How do people manage this?

I have a 1.5hr commute, via car (public transport not an option), and am aiming to work 3 or 4 days a week. I could probably work from home 1 or 2 days and hours might be flexible but probably mostly out of my control (depending on my role when I return).

I'm struggling to find a solution other than barely seeing my DD on the days that I work. Or is this just how it is for working mothers?

Ragwort Fri 05-Oct-12 16:29:34

I guess that's just the way it is for many working parents who have a long commute; I sometimes read about keeping a child up late so that they can see the parent when she/he gets home but personally I don't think that's a good idea.

I am in my 50s now grin - but I can remember my Dad having to commute long hours and we barely saw him in the week, didn't affect our relationship - we still get on very well and in fact he is arriving for the weekend shortly (having driven over 250 miles in his 80s !!).

Where will your dd be while you're at work? My commute is over 1 hour but the nursery is halfway there so I get to spend some time in the car with my dd2. Not ideal, but it's better than no time. Dd1 is at school in our home town so no nice car time with her anymore sad

Dh has a long commute and works PT - he can start early and get home early to avoid rush hour traffic but leaves the house at 6.20am
I work locally but FT and do a condensed week to have an afternoon off each week with DS so I don't get home until 6.10 each evening when DS goes up to bed at 6.45.

It's not easy but we can try and balance it so DS has working mornings with mum and evenings with dad because DH picks him up at 4.30pm.

Is there any option for you to start and finish earlier and leave the morning childcare to DH?

Gumby Fri 05-Oct-12 16:43:12

Could you move nearer to work?
Tbh it'll just get harder, especially when you've got school age children who need help with homework, you'll need to listen to them read after school etc

Be careful of picking a nursery which is nearer to your work, if you look at that option, if it's not alos close to where DH works. It's a nuisance being the parent who is always called upon when little one is ill.

NellyBluth Fri 05-Oct-12 17:01:01

I have a similar commute and a baby, I'm working 5 days a week at the moment. At the moment I get her up in the morning, even on the days where DP will be at home with her, and it turns out we actually have about an hour before we need to leave. I do everything with her around - she plays in the bathroom, kitchin, living room etc while I shower and get ready. She's very cheerful in the morning so it is actually a nice time to be with her. I then see her for an hour in the evenings. She is still having a late afternoon nap which means she doesn't particularly want to be asleep until about 8, so as soon as I get home I take her, DP goes to get an hour to himself, and I do bathtime and bedtime.

Its not ideal, and obviously the whole work discussion is a much larger one that you possibly don't want to get in to here, but it isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I am looking on my commute, which is fortunately quite easy and so I can read and email, as 'my' time, which is more than I got when I was looking after DD. The weekends are great too, and I find I am a lot less frustrated by those little things babies do that can stress you when you are with them all day every day (refusing to sleep, throwing their food on the floor, taking 2 hours to eat dinner). I am happily busy in the evenings after work once DD is in bed so that I know my time is freer at the weekends to just concentrate on being with her.

One thing another MNetter said when I started a thread like this before going back to work was that whenever she misses her DC during the work day, she thinks about her DC having a lovely time playing at nursery/CM. I do that and it works. I focus on how happy DD is to see her CM in the morning and how obviously comfortable she is there. I focus on her getting to spend quality time with DP when he is looking after her.

Also, apparently it can take a few months to really get used to it so be gentle on yourself.

Lastly, if this is just how it has to be because of finances, long-term career etc., then always remember the Mumsnet mantra: it's just a phase. Another job may come along, a chance to work better hours may come along, the possibility of buying a house nearer may come along. Nothing is ever permanent, but sometimes you just have to cope with things being not entirely ideal.

DotAndCarryOne Fri 05-Oct-12 20:53:53

Thank you for all your thoughts on this one.

I'm ok with the idea of being at work all day for a few days a week, as long as I get (ideally) 2-3 hours with DD. I don't want to be keeping her up late and am prepared to miss 1 night a week, but no more. However Nelly you are right - it is just a phase - I could lose my job (yippee, redundancy would be nice smile ) or anything could happen. We will think about schools in a few years time (DD will only be 1 when I go back to work).

At the moment, we can't afford to move nearer work and because I'm driving, I can't count it as 'me' time; it's mostly swearing at crappy drivers.

Nursery needs to be near work as we both work in the city centre and our local nurseries don't open early/late enough. I'm thinking getting stuck on the motorway with DD in the car after work is marginally less stressful than getting stuck without her but in a panic to pick her up before nursery closes.

DH is a consultant with erratic office hours plus some travel which would make sharing drop off/pick up tricky. When I broached the subject of maybe fixing his routine he wasn't keen (grrr - my job is almost as erratic but I am having to pin down a routine) but I'm not giving up on this one as I think it is our best option, though god knows what happens when he or I have to travel; I guess we cross that bridge when we come to it.

Alternatively DH can find another job that doubles his salary so that I don't have to work. For some reason, he wasn't keen grin

DotAndCarryOne Fri 05-Oct-12 20:56:42

'redundancy would be nice' - Sorry, wasn't meant as a general statement. It would be nice for me because my company has generous redundancy packages.

GotMyGoat Fri 05-Oct-12 20:58:51

We gradually changed my dds bedtime to 8pm before I went to work, as I also have a 1.5hrish commute. I leave the house at 6.30, so that I can start work at 8 and then leave around 4 - this way I get home for 5.30 and get to have dinner together and play a little before bedtime. I work on flexitime which is fab. DD wakes up around 8am each day apparently, so much later than her other baby friends.

Of course, sometimes I have to stay late but it's not too bad. I went back full time when dd was 7 months old, but she's just turned 14 months and I've dropped to 4 days a week as I've been a bit unwell. 4 days a week is much nicer - I feel much less knackered!

NellyBluth Fri 05-Oct-12 21:31:10

Have you looked in to CMs? DP does shift work so we are in a vaguely similar situation to you. Our CM is more flexible than a nursery. We looked at what a month generally looks like (as its different days and different hours every week) and agreed a fixed fee that covers the hours and extra flexibility. We both commute in to London and so run the risk that the entire train line could break and we'd have to wait the 90 minutes it would take one of the grandparents to pick her up, but we know the CM is ok with this, there's so much less stress. The CM is also happier with little sniffles and the like.

Also agree with shifting the routine as well to something that suits. And if your baby will have a little inconsistency with times with you, with another carer etc., then try and keep a routine every day so she feels more secure. We keep to the CM's routine so we have shifted the naps around the school runs (sods law exactly when DD used to want to sleep!)

DotAndCarryOne Sat 06-Oct-12 11:22:35

Useful advice, thank you. Although I've looked at nurseries (and found one I like), I haven't looked at CMs but will do as I think you raise some good points about flexibility.

I work 3 long days as I'm doing 3 and 1/2 days worth of hours. I have a long commute too so don't really get to see my baby on the 3 days I work. I hoick her out of bed to breastfeed her at about 6:30am and then I'm out of the house by 7am. My DH does the nursery drop off and pick up. I get back about 6:20 and my DD is in bed already asleep sad It's very hard not really seeing her for the 3 days but it's so worth it to have 2 full days off with her.

I also wondered about keeping my DD up later so I could see her and breastfeed her before bed or maybe asking DH to give her a quick 3rd nap so she could have a slightly later bedtime. But on reflection I didn't feel it was fair, especially as I have to get her up early in the morning.

One thing that might be in your favour is you say you could be flexible sometimes and work from home. I try to leave work an hour early 1 day out of the 3. This means I get to see DD, do her bath and bed and then I do an hours work at home after tea.

Best of luck with it all.

forevergreek Sun 07-Oct-12 22:56:14

I would also look at a nanny

A nanny for 3 days shouldn't be too bad ( if your both working full time in the city)
A nanny will do all aspects of childcare from the moment they wake until bed if you need. They will also cook for your child, sort child's laudry/ bedding, tidy child's room etc.. They will provide the flexibility o a childminder with allowing child to stay in own home, and if you get severly delayed/ something comes up, they can feed/ bath and put child in bed in their own home.

DotAndCarryOne Mon 08-Oct-12 19:22:33

We considered a nanny, but it worked out to be too expensive; I won't be working full time so that's a big chunk of our income gone and although we are in a city, it's not London (read that as 'our pay is crap by comparison').

Thinking about it, us both working from home on alternate days might be the way to go (if I can get DH to pin down his schedule!). That way DD can go to a local CM/nursery, not have to endure the long commute and we get more time with her at either end of the day.

Another option might be working some hours in the evenings - does anyone do this?

oscarwilde Mon 15-Oct-12 16:27:34

Nanny share ?

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